Sunday, 26 July 2009

My home-grown lunch

OK, for the experienced veg grower I’m guessing, the following story may not have that much resonance. I say guess, because this is the first year I’ve grown things to eat in my garden and so I don’t know if I’ll feel this way every time I pick my lunch!

That’s exactly what I did yesterday – I picked my lunch of carrot, yellow courgettes, lettuce and beetroot. Well, if I’m totally honest, I added some asparagus that was on offer this weekend at Waitrose and added a dollop of shop bought mayonnaise. But the main event, as you can see from the picture, was my very own first crop of delicious vegetables.

The sense of satisfaction was immense. I mean anyone can buy salad and probably enjoy it. But a day later, I can still taste my lunch. Yes! The flavours were fantastic. I can’t remember the last time tasted such a carroty carrot and I simply grated the raw beetroot into a beautiful deep magenta little mound of the most intensely flavoured sweet beetroot I can remember tasting.

And these little golden courgettes I’m growing are almost creamy they’re so dense and un-seeded – absolutely no need for salting. It’s probably fair to point out that I’ve been cropping my Lollo Rosso lettuce for a couple of weeks now (leaf by large crinkly leaf) and mixed with finely chopped lovage, and lightly dressed with olive oil and cider vinegar they make a splendid salad to go with just about anything but especially pasta.

You see them here straight from the ground, but 15 minutes later and with the addition of steamed asparagus and mayonnaise mixed with a little ready basil from one of those squeezy tubes, the whole effect was sublime. Really.

Tell me, if you are a seasoned veg grower, do you grow immune to that extra sense of ‘I did it myself’ that must add at least another 100% to the taste factor? Do you?

Or do you keep it? I was reminded to ask this question listening to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on Desert Island Discs this morning, because to me, he seems perpetually enthused by food (and animals) that he’s grown himself.

Anyway I hope so, because I’m already planning what I’ll grow next year having put my toe in the water with courgettes, tomatoes (not yet ripe, so watch this space), pumpkins (watch for a separate posting on this subject), carrots, beetroot, potatoes (maincrop: Maris Piper), butternut squash, strawberries (Elan – so sweet!) and lots of herbs. I’m thinking broad beans, cauliflower, celeriac already. Any other ideas and suggestions?

In the meantime, if you’re looking to get started, July is definitely not too late. I’ve learned that now’s a great time to plant new potatoes for Christmas and Pak Choi for cropping in August. I’m sure there must be more. Let us know your tips for sowing now.

>> How to grow veg in mid-summer

>> How to grow your own vegetables

(Clare O'B)

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